Use of Embryonic Stem Cell-Specific microRNAs to Safely Promote Induced Pluripotency

Project by James Collins

About This Project

Scientists have discovered a family of novel microRNAs that enhance pluripotency in somatic cells by replacing the activity of Myc, one of the currently required reprogramming factors. Because these microRNAs do not self-replicate, they offer a safer alternative in the generation of induced pluripotent cells as cell therapeutics and research tools.

Project's Context

Factors that induce pluripotency in patient-specific somatic cells have the potential for use in therapeutic replacement of damaged or absent tissue, as well as in biological research. Although DNA molecules that encode for the necessary proteins are typically used to reprogram somatic cells, DNA is self-replicative and can be mutagenic. Therefore, alternative approaches for inducing pluripotency that avoid this problem would be desirable.

Project's Relevance

Investigators have identified a family of microRNAs that can be used as a substitute for one the factors required for reprogramming somatic cells.

This novel invention offers the following advantages:
- Use of safer non-replicative microRNAs to induce pluripotency in somatic cells
- Reduce the risk of activating oncogenes in the iPS cells
- Can be used in combination with other reprogramming molecules (proteins, small molecule drugs, long RNAs)

Project's Goals

To develop and commercialize the technology as a cell therapy or stem cell research tool


Stanford University University of Oxford


DNA Cardiovascular Therapeutic Stem Cell


Blelloch, Robert